Great Technical Writing: The User-Product Life Cycle – A Documentation Tool

OVERVIEWThe User-Product Life Cycle (U-PLC) is a powerful tool for the User Document writer.  Use the U-PLC to generate the high-level topics for your User Document.THE USER-PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE (U-PLC)Usually,Guest Posting when we think of a Product Life Cycle, we think in terms of the development and production of the Product itself.  When writing User Documentation, consider the U-PLC to help you generate all the topics necessary for a complete document.  User Documentation should support your Users in all of their interactions with the product.The User-Product Life Cycle refers to the full range of interactions between the User and the Product itself.  This is more than simply “how to use the product.” 

As you will see below, “Use the Product” is only one stage in the U-PLC.STAGES IN THE U-PLC Here are the stages IN the U-PLC (assuming that the User as acquired the Product):– U-P LC Stage: Transport the Product to its working location– U-P LC Stage: Unpack the ProductTransport and Unpacking of the product are listed here just for completeness.  These are currently displayed on the packaging itself, usually in pictorial form, and do a good job. — U-P LC Stage:   Overall knowledge about the Product.This is information that is presented to the User early in the User Documents.Topics here include safety, legal, and disclaimers related to the product. The description of the product should indicate how the product may change the way that the User currently does things.  For example, an analog voice recorder will require the User to listen to all the stored items to find a particular one; a digital voice recorder will enable the User to quickly jump from one message to another.– U-P LC Stage:   Set up or Install the Product    * Environments    It is important for the writer to think of the various environments where the product will exist.  For example, how should a computer program be installed in a Windows, Mac, or Linux environment?    “Environments” includes other things that the product must work with.  For example, how should a DVD player be installed in a system currently composed of a TV and a VCR?  How about installation to a TV & VCR system where the TV has only one video input?    * User Capabilities.    Th